Positive Psychological States and Biological Processes

Carissa A. Low*, Julienne E. Bower, Judith T. Moskowitz, Elissa S. Epel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Mounting scientific evidence indicates that positive psychological states are reflected in biological processes, objective physical health, and mortality. This chapter examines the mechanisms through which positive psychological states influence physical health outcomes, focusing on biological processes. To that end, it first reviews the literature on the effect of positive psychological states on neuroendocrine and immune system function with a focus on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and inflammatory processes. Second, it describes a conceptual model of "enhanced allostasis" as a mechanism linking positive psychological states with physical health. Finally, it identifies questions that remain unanswered and outlines testable hypotheses guided by both existing literature and the enhanced allostasis model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDesigning Positive Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationTaking Stock and Moving Forward
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199893263
ISBN (Print)9780195373585
StatePublished - May 1 2011


  • Enhanced allostasis model
  • Hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal processes
  • Immune system
  • Inflammatory processes
  • Neuroendocrine system
  • Physical health
  • Physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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